Primark, a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, has developed a new online tool that is helping usher in a new era of transparency for the retailer. The Global Sourcing Map allows consumers to access information about the 1071 factories and suppliers that make up the company’s supply chain.
“For a number of years, we’ve been working closely with industry partners sharing information about where Primark products are made. This has included, for example, details of our suppliers, their factories, as well as our supply chain practices,” said a spokesperson for Primark. “Partners have extended from bodies such as the Ethical Trading Initiative to organizations monitoring industry standards, notably the International Labor Organization’s Better Work program.”
The sourcing map features information about Primark’s suppliers’ factories in 31 countries, including the names, addresses, number of workers and gender split of the workforce at each. To be included on the map, factories must have produced products for Primark for at least a year and be an established supplier.
Primark previously kept the details of its suppliers’ factories private, regarding it as a matter of commercial advantage. But with 98 percent of its factories also manufacturing products for other brands — several of whom have begun to publish the details of their sourcing practices — the company felt the time was right to share this information.
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“Transparency for supply chain has always been a critical agenda. This wasn’t a case of us not having the data, we know where our products are made. For us, we felt there was a natural cadence for getting this information out and launching the website was the first step, with the Global Sourcing Map following on as a second phase,” Katherine Stewart, Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Director at Primark, told Edie.net.
“We know consumers and stakeholders are interested and we thought that publishing the Global Sourcing Map was a big step on that journey. We will continue to look at what we feel might be useful or interesting as we continue to develop our program.”
Primark’s Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Team will be responsible for providing updates to the Primark Global Sourcing Map on a twice-yearly basis.
The move builds on Primark’s previous efforts to promote social and environmental sustainability in its supply chain. In addition to signing onto the Bangladesh Accord, the company has developed a Sustainable Cotton Program and as a member of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Program has committed to phasing out the use of certain chemicals in its supply chain by 2020.
A link to the sourcing map is available here.
In August 2017, Bangladesh launched an initiative of its own to map all of its apparel factories. Implemented by Dhaka’s BRAC University’s Center for Entrepreneurship Development in collaboration with BRAC USA, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and C&A Foundation, the Digital RMG Factory Mapping in Bangladesh (DRFM-B) project is the first of its kind to attempt to digitally map the entire garment industry in Bangladesh and marks a critical industry shift toward more transparency. DRFM-B will be guided by a multi-stakeholder Project Advisory Committee, including representatives of workers, NGOs, employers and industry associations.
The project collects comprehensive and accurate data on factories across Bangladesh — the names, locations, numbers of workers, product type, export country, certifications and brand customers — and disclose it in a publicly available online map. Verification is crowdsourced from the public to ensure that the information remains up-to-date and accurate.